This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily on October 18, 2019
KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court ruled yesterday that the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA)’s disciplinary committee cannot make public the findings of its investigations on Deloitte PLT partner Ng Yee Hong.
The investigations were in relation to his audit of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)’s accounts for 2013 and 2014.
The findings cannot be disclosed because Ng has not exhausted the appeal procedures, the court ruled, noting that the auditor has lodged an appeal to MIA’s disciplinary appeal board.
Justice Datuk Nordin Hassan granted Ng the declaratory relief sought by him but made no order as to costs.
The judge also did not allow an extension of the injunction Ng obtained from the court earlier, stopping the disciplinary committee from revealing the probe findings.
Ng had secured an ex-parte injunction on Sept 5, followed by an inter-parte injunction on Sept 24 that was valid until yesterday.
But even without the injunction, the probe findings cannot be disclosed as that is the effect of the declaratory relief granted yesterday.
The Edge Financial Daily reported on Wednesday that Ng had sought the injunction to prevent MIA and its agents from making public any adverse decision, until the expiry of 21 days after the final determination on his appeal against MIA’s decision.
The investigation on Ng followed a complaint made by one Andrew Anand Solomon Devesahayam on March 31, 2015, for alleged breach of MIA’s by-laws concerning certain areas and accounting standards, in relation to Ng’s role as 1MDB’s auditor for the financial years ended March 31, 2013 and 2014
Lawyer Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, who along with Chan Wei June, represented Ng informed the court yesterday that his client had submitted an appeal to the disciplinary appeal board.
Justice Nordin then asked MIA’s lawyer Shaikh Abd Saleem how long the board will take to make a decision, but the lawyer said he was not sure.
In his affidavit to support the declaration being sought, Ng said a public announcement of any adverse decision would gravely affect his reputation as a professional, as well as the audit firm’s reputation.
“I have been an accredited auditor for over 10 years without having been involved in any disciplinary proceedings before [MIA] other than that before the disciplinary committee, and proceedings that have arisen from a separate complaint also in connection with 1MDB,” said Ng.
The disciplinary committee began hearings on Sept 28, 2017 after receiving a complaint from its investigation committee, and the hearing was concluded on July 17, 2019.
Ng, in his affidavit, said representatives of Deloitte attended a meeting with MIA chief executive officer Dr Nurmazilah Mazlan at MIA’s premises, with Deloitte stating that, in the event of an adverse decision, Ng would appeal against the decision to the disciplinary appeal board.
Nurmazilah, however, informed the audit firm’s representatives that there are no rules preventing MIA from making a public announcement on the disciplinary committee’s decision, notwithstanding an appeal by Ng.
Following that, Ng’s solicitors issued a letter to Nurmazilah, stating that there is no legal basis for MIA to publicly announce its decision if Ng was to appeal.
The MIA, in response, said it had not seen it fit to offer any view as to how the relevant rules apply and did not give any assurance that it will not make public the committee’s decision which was delivered on Sept 5.
Ng had also filed a separate judicial review for one of the allegations against him, and case management for the matter was fixed for Oct 30 by Justice Nordin yesterday.
Deloitte was appointed 1MDB’s auditor in December 2013, replacing KPMG Malaysia, which was sacked after it wanted to issue a qualified audit report for 1MDB’s 2013 financial statements.
This was in relation to a difference of opinion on the fair value of 1MDB’s investment in Bridge Global SPC through Brazen Sky Ltd, a company linked to fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho.
On taking over, Deloitte verified the accounts for the financial years 2013 and 2014, without any qualification or emphasis on the matter. Both KPMG and Deloitte have since stated their audited reports on 1MDB’s financial statements can no longer be relied on.